Cover art for podcast Democracy Works

Democracy Works

146 EpisodesProduced by Penn State McCourtney Institute for Democracy/The Democracy GroupWebsite

Examining what it means to live in a democracy

episodes iconAll Episodes

The Supreme Court's politics and power

October 19th, 2020


A lot of people are thinking about the Civil War era these days, whether it's asking questions about whether we're in a second civil war now, or thinking about what happened during the election of 1876. In addition to …

The perfect storm for election disaster

October 12th, 2020


In this episode, we review the mechanics of how election results are certified and the work of the Electoral College between Election Day and …

The 2020 election from WPSU's Take Note

October 5th, 2020


We really enjoy collaborating with the team at WPSU on Democracy Works and were happy to give the interviewer's chair to WPSU News reporter Anne …

Hong Kong's fight is everyone's fight

September 28th, 2020


In some ways, the fight for democracy in Hong Kong is unique to the region and its relationship with China. However, the protests also feel familiar to anyone who's been watching the Black Lives Matter protests in the …

Sheriffs 101

September 21st, 2020


Our guest is Mirya R. Holman is an associate professor of political science at Tulane University. She was drawn to researching sheriffs after growing …

Students learn, students vote

September 14th, 2020


Nancy Thomas is director of the Institute for Democracy and Higher Education, an applied research center at the Tisch College of Civic Life at Tufts …

A dark side to "laboratories of democracy"

September 7th, 2020


Virginia Eubanks examines the relationship between technology and society in her book Automating Inequality: How High-Tech tools Profile, Police, and …

A fall preview — with a new cohost!

August 31st, 2020


In this episode, Michael, Chris, and Candis discuss:

  • The dynamics at play in national, state, and local elections this fall
  • How politics impacts the …

YIMBYs and NIMBYs in a democracy

August 24th, 2020


Many of us are spending more time at home these days than we ever have before. In the United States, owning a home has come to symbolize the American …

After 100 years, there's still no "woman voter"

August 17th, 2020


In their new book A Century of Votes for Women: American Elections Since Suffrage, Christina Wolbrecht and Kevin Corder examine women’s (and men’s) …

She Votes! — Susan B. Anthony and "voting while female"

August 10th, 2020


This episode examines the arrest, trial, and conviction of suffragist Susan B. Anthony for the crime of "voting while female." Rather than sitting on her heels, Anthony launched a campaign to raise awareness about …

Reason in politics and hope for democracy

August 3rd, 2020


"Hope for Democracy" recognizes the primary problems that plague contemporary democracy and offers a solution. It tells the story of one civic …

The people who choose the President

July 27th, 2020


At the end of its 2020 term, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling on what might seem like an obscure question in Constitutional law, but could have …

Broken Ground: Robert Bullard on environmental justice

July 20th, 2020


This week, we're bringing you an episode from another podcast we think you might enjoy, Broken Ground from the Southern Environmental Law Center.

Broken Ground digs  up environmental stories in the South that don’t …

The world's most punitive democracy [revisited]

July 13th, 2020


We're digging into the archives this week for another episode on race and criminal justice. Peter K. Enns, associate professor in the Department of Government at Cornell University, Executive Director of the Roper …

Suspect citizens in a democracy [revisited]

July 6th, 2020


This week marks the beginning of our summer break here on Democracy Works. We are going to be rebroadcasting a few episodes from our back catalog — …

The second annual Democracy Works listener mailbag

June 29th, 2020


Michael, Jenna, and Chris in the studio in summer 2019.

Before we take a short summer break, Michael and Chris answer your questions about democracy in our current moment. Thank you to everyone who sent in questions; …

How to end democracy’s doom loop

June 22nd, 2020


As we bring this season of Democracy Works to a close, we’re going to end in a place similar to where we began — discussing the role of political …

The clumsy journey to antiracism

June 15th, 2020


This week, we are bringing you another interview that we hope will give some context to the discussions about racism and inequality that are happening in the U.S. right now.

We’re  joined by Tehama Lopez Bunyasi, …

Civil rights, civil unrest

June 8th, 2020


As protests continue throughout the U.S. in the wake of George Floyd’s death, we’ve been thinking a lot about comparisons to the Civil Rights era and whether the models for demonstrations created during that era are …

Aaron Maybin on doing the hard work of democracy [rebroadcast]

June 3rd, 2020


We are working on an episode about the social and democratic context for the protests taking place around the U.S. after George Floyd’s death; we’ll have it for you on Monday. In the meantime, we are going to share a …

Free speech from the Founding Fathers to Twitter

June 1st, 2020


This is another episode that we recorded in our final days together in the office before COVID-19. However, the topic is just as relevant — if not more so — in our new reality.

The topic is free speech and our guest is …

Bonus: Mayors and bipartisanship during COVID-19

May 29th, 2020


Today we’re bringing you a special episode produced by Nicole Gresen, our intern on Democracy Works during the spring 2020 semester.

Nicole spoke …

The people vs. the experts — and those caught in the middle

May 25th, 2020


These days, it can feel like some politicians are working against experts in public health and other fields when it comes to actions surrounding …

China’s role in the COVID-19 infodemic

May 18th, 2020


As if the COVID-19 pandemic wasn’t enough to deal with, the World Health Organization says we’re now in an infodemic alongside it. We’ve seen this play out as misinformation and conspiracy theories move from digital to …

A roadmap to a more equitable democracy

May 11th, 2020


COVID-19 has exposed longstanding racial and economic inequalities in American life, which is evident in the fact that communities of color are being …

Trust, facts, and democracy in a polarized world

May 4th, 2020


This episode was recorded before COVID-19 changed everything, but many of the themes we discuss about public opinion polling and the importance of …

Bonus: Civic engagement, social distancing, and democracy reform

May 1st, 2020


Democracy is very much a group activity. Inside, we come together to debate, discuss, do the work of government, and make laws. Outside, we protest …

Give me liberty or give me COVID-19?

April 27th, 2020


From Maine to California, people across the country have gathered at their state capitols over the past few weeks to protest stay at home orders …

Bonus: COVID-19 and Democracy with The Democracy Group

April 24th, 2020


We are excited to collaborate with our partners in The Democracy Group podcast network to bring you a bonus episode on how COVID-19 is impacting …

Federalism in uncertain times

April 20th, 2020


With each passing day, the relationship between states and the federal government seems to grow more complicated. States are forming coalitions and working together to chart a path out of COVID-19, while sometimes …

Will COVID-19 create a one-issue campaign?

April 13th, 2020


The general election is going to happen in November, and candidates still need to figure out ways to get their messages out to voters. COVID-19 has changed everything about the way candidates communicate with potential …

Public health depends on the Census

April 6th, 2020


The COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S. intensified just as the 2020 Census was getting underway in earnest. As Americans fill their days with news about the new coronavirus, the Census Bureau is doing everything it can to …

Free and fair elections during a pandemic

March 30th, 2020


As COVID-19 intensifies throughout the U.S., questions about the future of the remaining primary elections and the general election in November are beginning to surface. The last thing you want are large groups of …

COVID-19 exposes democracy’s tensions

March 23rd, 2020


As we’ve seen over the past weeks and months, democracies and authoritarian countries respond to pandemics very differently. There are balances to be struck — liberty and community, human rights and disease mitigation — …

Populism is not a monolith

March 16th, 2020


We know that there are a lot of episodes about COVID-19 out there right now. We’re working on one of our own that we hope to bring to you soon, but in the meantime, consider something different to focus on while you …

Swamp Stories: Cashing In

March 9th, 2020


It’s spring break at Penn State this week and we’re going to take a brief hiatus to bring you an episode from a new podcast that’s part of The Democracy Group, our new podcast network.

Swamp Stories is produced by Issue …

The promise and peril of early voting

March 2nd, 2020


Super Tuesday is this week, but voters in many states have already cast their ballots for races happening this week and throughout the rest of the primary season. From Florida to Pennsylvania, states are expanding …

Breaking down Black politics

February 24th, 2020


As the South Carolina primary approaches, all eyes are on the African American vote. This week, Michael Berkman is taking over the interviewer’s …

Does Congress promote partisan gridlock?

February 17th, 2020


Some of the most talked-about issues in Congress these days are not about the substance of policies or bills being debated on the floor. Instead, the …

How states are working to keep your vote safe

February 10th, 2020


Elections are the bedrock of any democracy. Without confidence in the process or the results, confidence in democracy itself is vulnerable. With the …

Primaries, parties, and the public

February 3rd, 2020


The 2020 primary season officially begins today with the Iowa caucuses, followed by the New Hampshire primary on February 11 and Nevada and South …

The connective tissue of democracy

January 27th, 2020


The Women’s March 2020 was held in cities across the country on January 18. What began as a conversation on social media has evolved into a network …

How the Tea Party and the Resistance are upending politics

January 20th, 2020


Since 2008, the Tea Party and the Resistance have caused some major shake-ups for the Republican and Democratic parties. The changes fall outside the …

A 2020 preview

January 13th, 2020


This week, we begin a new year and a new season with a look ahead what 2020 will mean for democracy in the United States and around the world. We know that there will be a Census and an election, but will they be …

Grassroots organizing to “reboot” democracy [rebroadcast]

January 6th, 2020


Happy New Year! Our winter break continues with a rebroadcast from fall 2018 with Lara Putnam on grassroots organizing in suburban America. This episode was recorded before the  2018 midterms, but many of the trends we …

E.J. Dionne on making America empathetic again [rebroadcast]

December 30th, 2019


While we enjoy a holiday break, we are rebroadcasting an episode with E.J. Dionne that was recorded in March 2019. The McCourtney Institute for …

Is it possible to overdo democracy?

December 23rd, 2019


As we enter the holiday season, Robert Talisse thinks it’s a good idea to take a break from politics. In fact, he might go so far as to say democracy …

Chris Beem on democratic humility and virtues

December 16th, 2019


Earlier this fall, our own Chris Beem traveled to Notre Dame to appear on With a Side of Knowledge, a podcast produced by the university’s Office of the Provost. The show is recorded over brunch, and this happened to …

Next-generation democracy

December 9th, 2019


Credit: Rachel Franklin Photography/Draw the Lines PA

One of the things we heard in our listener survey (which there’s still time to take, by the …

The democracy rebellion happening in states across the U.S.

December 2nd, 2019


Hedrick Smith is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of bestselling books The RussiansWho Stole the American Dream? and many others. …

A roundtable on impeachment, institutions, and legitimacy

November 25th, 2019


This week’s episode is a conversation between Michael Berkman, Chris Beem, and Michael Baranowski of The Politics Guys, a podcast that looks at …

Your guide to ranked-choice voting

November 18th, 2019


Ranked-choice voting has been in the news a lot lately. It was adopted in New York City’s November 2019 election, used for the first time in U.S. Congressional elections last year, and will be the method by which at …

Latino immigrants and the changing makeup of American democracy

November 11th, 2019


We’ve talked about immigration several times on this show with good reason. The role that people coming to the United States play in our democracy is …

Inside the world’s largest democracy

November 4th, 2019


More than 600 million people voted in India’s most recent election, but that does not mean all is well with democracy there. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP recently won re-election on a platform based on Hindu …

Changing the climate conversation

October 28th, 2019


Climate change is perhaps the most pressing issue of our time, but it’s so big that it can be difficult to imagine how you as an individual can make …

From political crisis to profound change

October 21st, 2019


October 21, 2019

Last week, we heard from Andrew Sullivan about the challenges facing the future of democracy in the United States and around the …

Andrew Sullivan on democracy’s double-edged sword

October 14th, 2019


This is one of the most pessimistic episodes we’ve done, but it’s worth hearing. Andrew Sullivan, New York magazine contributing editor, Daily Dish

The case for open primaries

October 7th, 2019


In about a dozen U.S. states, the only people who can vote in primary elections are those who are registered with a party. Republicans vote in the Republican primary and Democrats vote in the Democratic primary. This …

Understanding impeachment — from the Federalist Papers to the whistleblower

September 30th, 2019


We bring you special episode of Democracy Works this week that’s all about impeachment. Michael Berkman takes the lead on this episode and talks with …

Street-level bureaucrats at the border

September 23rd, 2019


Immigration is one of the most complex issues of our time in the United States and around the world. Enforcing immigration law in the U.S. involves a …

Out of Order: A conversation with Mitch Landrieu and Margaret Carlson

September 20th, 2019


Today we’re bringing you a bonus episode from Out of Order, a podcast produced by the German Marshal Fund of the United States. Out of Order is a podcast about how our world was, is, and will be ordered.

How do we save …

China’s threat to democracies around the world

September 16th, 2019


Larry Diamond joins us this week to talk about the threat China’s model of authoritarian capitalism poses to liberal democracy in the United States …

One state’s fight for fair maps

September 9th, 2019


Pennsylvania is one of several states trying to ensure fair congressional maps are drawn after the 2020 Census. As we say in the episode, redistricting is one of democracy’s thorniest problems. It’s easy to say you want …

How music transcends political polarization

September 2nd, 2019


Last week, we heard from Aaron Maybin about the ways visual art relates to his conception and practice of democracy. This week, we are going to look at the relationship between art and democracy through the lens of …

Doing the hard work of democracy in Baltimore

September 1st, 2019


You might remember Aaron Maybin from his time on the football field at Penn State or in the NFL. These days, he’s doing something much different. He’s an artist, activist, and educator in his hometown of Baltimore and …

How conspiracies are damaging democracy

September 1st, 2019


From Pizzagate to Jeffrey Epstein, conspiracies seem to be more prominent than ever in American political discourse. What was once confined to the …

Defending the First Amendment and the Fourth Estate

August 12th, 2019


We are back with new episodes this week, and we’re starting with an interview that we recorded in New York City earlier this summer. David McCraw is the Deputy General Counsel of the New York Times and author of Truth …

Standing up for science and fighting the climate wars [rebroadcast]

August 5th, 2019


For the last of our summer rebroadcasts, we are revisiting the conversation with Penn State’s Michael Mann, a world-renowned climate scientist. We’ve just finished the warmest month in global recorded history, so it …

Tracing the past, present, and future of protests

July 29th, 2019


Since we started this show, we’ve had the opportunity to speak with several organizers, from Joyce Ladner in the Civil Rights movement to Srdja …

A conversation about conversation [rebroadcast]

July 22nd, 2019


This week, we are revisiting another episode from the Democracy Works back catalog. This discussion is a nice companion to our episode with Timothy …

Politics and Polls: Blue state federalism

July 15th, 2019


Democracy Works summer break 2019 continues with an episode from Politics and Polls, a podcast produced by the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and …

The Pledge: Are you scared of the cafeteria lady?

July 15th, 2019


Our summer break continues this week with an episode of The Pledge, a podcast about people who are taking an active role in improving democracy in …

How Democracies Die author Daniel Ziblatt on the “grinding work” of democracy [rebroadcast]

July 8th, 2019


Our summer break continues this week with a rebroadcast of one of our very first episodes, a conversation with How Democracies Die author Daniel Ziblatt. He spoke at Penn State in March 2018. Both the book and the …

A democracy summer reading list [rebroadcast]

July 1st, 2019


Democracy Works is taking a few weeks off for the summer. While we do, we are going to share some older episodes you might have missed, along with a …

Answering your questions about democracy

June 24th, 2019


Is the United States really a democracy? What will the EU look like in 50 years? What should 2020 candidates be doing to demonstrate civility? Those …

Congressional oversight and making America pragmatic again

June 17th, 2019


We tend to think about congressional oversight in very academic terms — checks and balances, the Framers, etc. But what does it actually look like on the ground in Congress? To find out, we’re talking this week with …

Will AI destroy democracy?

June 10th, 2019


Jay Yonamine

Some political scientists and democracy scholars think that it might. The thinking goes something like this: inequality will rise as …

The 2019 version of Democracy in America

June 3rd, 2019


Lindsay Lloyd. Photo by Grant Miller

If Alexis de Tocqueville visited America today, what would he have to say about the condition of our democracy?

What neoliberalism left behind

May 27th, 2019


Neoliberalism is one of those fuzzy words that can mean something different to everyone. Wendy Brown is one of the world’s leading scholars on …

Demagogues are more common than you think

May 20th, 2019


Patricia Roberts-Miller

When you think of the word “demagogue,” what comes to mind? Probably someone like Hitler or another bombastic leader, right? …

What does the Mueller report mean for democracy?

May 13th, 2019


Laura Rosenberger

By now, you’ve no doubt head all about the report issued by Special Counsel Robert Mueller and the drama in Washington that’s ensued in the time since its release. But, if you only focus on the …

School segregation then and now

May 6th, 2019


Crystal Sanders

It’s been 65 years since the Brown v. Board of Education changed public schooling throughout a large portion of the United States. In …

What Serial taught Sarah Koenig about criminal justice — recorded live at Penn State

April 29th, 2019


Sarah Koenig spent a year inside Cleveland’s criminal justice system for season three of the Serial podcast. Along the way, she met some interesting people and had a birds-eye view of what justice (and injustice) look …

Is it time to revive civility?

April 22nd, 2019


Timothy Shaffer

There are a lot of calls these days to “revive civility” in politics. While there are plenty of examples of uncivil behavior, there’s …

E.J. Dionne on empathy and democracy

April 15th, 2019


E.J. Dionne has the unique perspective of studying the horse race and the big picture of American politics. He writes a twice-weekly column for the …

No Jargon: Who controls the states?

April 8th, 2019


We are excited to bring you an episode from No Jargon, a podcast from the Scholars Strategy Network. Much like Democracy Works, No Jargon aims to …

The ongoing struggle for civil rights

April 8th, 2019


Joyce Ladner was at the forefront of the Civil Rights Movement in Mississippi in the 1950s and 60s as a member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating …

Immigration, refugees, and the politics of displacement

April 1st, 2019


Jan Egeland

From Brexit to Hungary to the U.S. border wall, many of today’s political conflicts center around immigration. Moving people from one …

A playbook for organizing in turbulent times

March 25th, 2019


Srdja Popovic

20 years ago, Srdja Popovic was part of a revolution — literally. He was a founding member of the Otpor! movement that ousted Serbia …

Jonathan Haidt on the psychology of democracy

March 18th, 2019


We say on this show all the time that democracy is hard work. But what does that really mean? What it is about our dispositions that makes it so hard to see eye to eye and come together for the greater good? And why, …

Future Hindsight: Ian Bremmer on the failure of globalism

March 14th, 2019


We are closing out our series on democracy around the world with a bonus episode from Future Hindsight, a show that features deep conversations with guests who are engaged in strengthening our society. This episode is a …

Brexit and the UK’s identity crisis

March 11th, 2019


Sona Golder

We’re just a few weeks away from the deadline for the UK to reach an agreement on its plan to leave the European Union. Nearly three …

Brazil’s tenuous relationship with democracy

March 4th, 2019


Gianpaolo Baiocchi

To say Brazil has had a complicated history with democracy is a understatement. The country has bounced in and out authoritarian …

Yellow vests and the “grand debate” in France

February 25th, 2019


Cole Stangler

This episode is the second in our series looking at democracy around the world. France is the focus this week. Our guest is Cole …

Viktor Orbán’s “velvet repression” in Hungary

February 18th, 2019


This episode begins a four-part series examining the state of democracy around the world. First up is Hungary, a country that’s often referred to in a group of countries in central and Eastern Europe that are seeing …

A brief history of “people power”

February 11th, 2019


In his book Can Democracy Work? A Short History of a Radical Idea from Ancient Athens to Our World, James Miller encapsulates 2500 years of …

The power of local government

February 4th, 2019


No matter where you live, chances are that your local government is filled with things like feasibility studies, property tax assessments, and …

Using the tools of democracy to address economic inequality

January 28th, 2019


Democracy and inequality have been at odds for as long as democracy as has existed. As the gap between rich and poor widens, so too does trust in …

What is democracy? A conversation with Astra Taylor

January 21st, 2019


We begin our third season with a fundamental question: What is democracy?

Astra Taylor grapples with this question in a documentary of the same name and a forthcoming book. We talk with her this week about what she …

Trump on Earth: The Red State Paradox

January 14th, 2019


We’ll be back with new episodes starting next week. This week’s episode comes to you from our friends at Trump on Earth, a podcast that’s taking a closer look at all the changes coming out of Washington on the …

It’s good to be counted [rebroadcast]

January 7th, 2019


For this week’s rebroadcast, we revisit an episode on the U.S. Census that originally aired in May 2018. New episodes return January 21 when we talk with “What is Democracy?” director Astra Taylor.

Jennifer Van Hook

The …

When states sue the federal government [rebroadcast]

December 31st, 2018


Our holiday break continues this week as we bring you an episode with with Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro that originally aired in …

Citizenship, patriotism, and democracy in the classroom [rebroadcast]

December 24th, 2018


While we take a holiday break, we are going back into the archives to rebroadcast a few of our favorite episodes from earlier this year. This one …

2018: The year in democracy

December 17th, 2018


Michael Berkman

From gerrymandering to record voter turnout, it’s been a busy year for democracy. This doesn’t mean that everything has been positive, but there’s certainly plenty to reflect on. This week, Michael …

The complicated relationship between campaign finance and democracy

December 10th, 2018


Caroline Hunter

In the United States, voting is a very private act. You step into the booth alone and, for a lot of people, it’s considered taboo to …

Bonus: Capturing the nation’s mood

December 6th, 2018


Eric Plutzer

We end almost every episode of the show with four questions that come from the McCourtney Institute for Democracy’s Mood of the Nation …

Are land-grant universities still “democracy’s colleges?”

December 3rd, 2018


Land-grant universities were once known as “democracy’s colleges,” places where people who were not wealthy elites could earn the education …

Norman Eisen’s love letter to democracy

November 26th, 2018


As we’ve previously discussed, there are a lot of books about democracy filling book store and library shelves right now. Norman Eisen could have …

Winning the “democracy lottery”

November 19th, 2018


Robin Teater

It’s not the Powerball or the Mega Millions, but this democracy lottery does give people the chance to directly impact information that appears on the ballot in their state. Like a lot of things we talk …

From soldier-statesman to the warrior ethos: Gen. Wesley Clark on the military and democracy

November 12th, 2018


Gen. Wesley Clark

We observe Veterans Day this week, a time when people across the United States remember and thank those who have served in the military. While the military remains one of the most respected …

Protecting democracy from foreign interference — recorded live at the National Press Club

November 5th, 2018


Laura Rosenberger

With the midterms this week, all eyes are on the threat of election hacking and interference. Electoral integrity is important, but as you’ll hear in this week’s episode, the threats to American …

Will Millennials disrupt democracy?

October 29th, 2018


Stella Rouse

From cooking to shopping to getting around town, disruption is the name of the game for Millennials. Will they do the same thing to democracy?

Millennials, or those born between 1981 and 1996, are now …

David Frum on developing the habits of democracy

October 22nd, 2018


Around the McCourtney Institute, we like to say that we’re “partisans for democracy.” We can think of few people who better embody that notion today than David Frum. He was among the first people to talk about the Trump …

When states sue the federal government

October 15th, 2018


It seems like every few weeks, we see headlines about states banding together to block actions taken by the federal government. You might even remember former Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott quipping that he goes to …

How “if it bleeds, it leads” impacts democracy

October 8th, 2018


Peter Enns

The problems with the prison system in the U.S. have been well documented, but what’s not talked about nearly as often is how things got this way. Why does there seem to be such enthusiasm for putting people …

A story about democracy, told through 20 million traffic stops

October 1st, 2018


The lights flash in your rearview mirror as the police car comes up behind you. A sinking feeling forms in the pit of your stomach as the officer …

Breaking the silence in Syria

September 24th, 2018


We’ve talked before on this show about the importance of a free press, but this week’s episode brings a whole new meaning to the term. In 2014, …

Citizenship, patriotism, and democracy in the classroom

September 17th, 2018


As a piece in The Atlantic recently noted, democracy is not natural. Becoming a democratic citizen involves a set of behaviors that need to be …

Behind the scenes of the “Year of the Woman”

September 10th, 2018


Rebecca Kreitzer

One of the biggest headlines to emerge heading into the 2018 midterms is the record number of female candidates in local, state, and national races. While it’s easy to point to this a post-Trump …

The democrats in public sector unions [Labor Day rebroadcast]

September 3rd, 2018


Paul Clark

This week, we are rebraodcasting our conversation about public sector unions from earlier this year with Paul Clark, director of the

Middle America, Part 2: Grassroots organizing and rebooting democracy

August 27th, 2018


Last week, we heard from Salena Zito about the segments of middle America who supported Donald Trump after voting for Barack Obama. This week, we …

Middle America, Part 1: Populism and the Trump Voter

August 20th, 2018


In the effort to understand the people who voted for Donald Trump in 2016, a style of reporting has emerged that Chris Hayes recently described as “

Facebook is not a democracy

August 13th, 2018


Matt Jordan

We have access to more information now than at any other time in history, but we trust that information less than ever before. A Gallup survey recently found that 58 percent of respondents felt less informed …

How will we remember Charlottesville?

August 6th, 2018


This weekend marks the one-year anniversary of the Unite The Right rally and counter protests in Charlottesville, Virginia that claimed the life of Heather Heyer and set off a firestorm around President Trump’s remarks …

A democracy reading list

July 9th, 2018


If you’ve been to a book store or the library lately, then you’ve probably seen at least a few books on democracy on the shelves. The 2016 presidential election spurred a lot of conversation about the current state of …

Bonus: A dose of optimism about the future of democracy

July 5th, 2018


If you need a sense of hope about the future of democracy, you’ve come to the right place. Stephanie Keyaka, editor-in-chief of The Underground and one of the McCourtney Institute’s Nevins Fellows, is spending the …

The constitutional crisis episode

July 2nd, 2018


This is one we’ve been wanting to do since we started the podcast. The term constitutional crisis is frequently used but often misunderstood. Like democracy, it’s hard to define but you know it when you see it.

If anyone …

Unpacking political polarization

June 25th, 2018


Polarization is a term that’s thrown around among political pundits as one reason for the decline of American democracy — often without an …

What should voting look like in the 21st century?

June 18th, 2018


Across the U.S., the process to register to vote and cast a ballot is different in every state. And we’re not just talking about minor details. The entire registration process and timeline can vary widely from one …

When the “business of business” bleeds into politics

June 11th, 2018


What is the role of a corporation in a democracy? If you asked Milton Friedman, the answer would be none at all. He famously said in the 1970s that …

Michael Mann’s journey through the climate wars

June 4th, 2018


This episode is not about climate change. Well, not directly, anyway. Instead, we talk with Nobel Prize winner and Penn State Distinguished …

Can young people revive civic engagement?

May 29th, 2018


Peter Levine is one of the country’s leading scholars in the area of civic engagement. He is the Associate Dean for Research and Lincoln Filene …

Bonus: Democracy In Action #1

May 24th, 2018


We love talking with scholars and thought leaders on Democracy Works, but we’d also like to bring you the everyday stories of democracy in action. …

A conversation about conversation

May 21st, 2018


This week’s episode seeks to answer one simple, but very important, question: Why is it so hard for people to talk to each other? There are a lot of …

Ten thousand democracies

May 11th, 2018


One of the things we talked about in our episode with How Democracies Die author Daniel Ziblatt is the “grinding work” that it takes to make a …

It’s good to be counted

May 8th, 2018


Jennifer Van Hook

The next census is just around the corner 2020, and the U.S. Census Bureau is already hard at work on preparing to count the more than 325 million people in the United States. The census is one of the …

Satire is good for more than just a few laughs

May 1st, 2018


Political satire has been around nearly as long as politics itself and can provide a much needed laugh in times of crisis.

But, as you’ll hear from …

Tommie Smith: From sharecropper to Olympic protester

April 24th, 2018


Tommie Smith is a true living legend. He won a gold medal in the men’s 200 meter event at the 1968 Olympics, setting a world record in the process. …

Generation Z and the future of democracy

April 17th, 2018


Over the past few months, the members of Generation Z have combined the tenets of traditional social movements with the power of social media to reimagine what it means to protest in a democracy. That energy was on …

How Democracies Die author Daniel Ziblatt on the ‘grinding work’ of democracy

April 10th, 2018


Daniel Ziblatt has done a lot of interviews since the release of How Democracies Die, the bestselling book he co-wrote with Steven Levitsky. But we asked him a question he’d never gotten before — about a line toward the …

What can Pennsylvania voters do about gerrymandering?

April 3rd, 2018


Chris Satullo

Pennsylvania received a new congressional map earlier this year, closing the books on what was widely considered one of the most …

Fake news, clickbait, and the future of local journalism

March 27th, 2018


Can philanthropy save local journalism? Are the calls of “fake news” from Washington impacting the work of journalists in other parts of the country? …

Checking the President’s power

March 20th, 2018


From Watergate to Benghazi to Robert Mueller, U.S. history is full of congressional hearings. You’ve no doubt heard about them in the news, but do …

Is Colin Kaepernick a good democrat?

March 14th, 2018


Abe Khan

No matter how much of a sports fan you are, you probably remember seeing Colin Kaepernick kneeling during National Anthem. President Trump …

What is Democracy Works?

March 12th, 2018


From the McCourtney Institute for Democracy at Penn State, this is Democracy Works. In this episode, hosts Michael Berkman and Chris Beem take a few minutes to explain why we wanted to start this podcast and what we …

Loading ...

Listen to Democracy Works


A free podcast app for iPhone and Android

  • User-created playlists and collections
  • Download episodes while on WiFi to listen without using mobile data
  • Stream podcast episodes without waiting for a download
  • Queue episodes to create a personal continuous playlist
RadioPublic on iOS and Android
Or by RSS
RSS feed

Connect with listeners

Podcasters use the RadioPublic listener relationship platform to build lasting connections with fans

Yes, let's begin connecting
Browser window

Find new listeners

  • A dedicated website for your podcast
  • Web embed players designed to convert visitors to listeners in the RadioPublic apps for iPhone and Android
Clicking mouse cursor

Understand your audience

  • Capture listener activity with affinity scores
  • Measure your promotional campaigns and integrate with Google and Facebook analytics
Graph of increasing value

Engage your fanbase

  • Deliver timely Calls To Action, including email acquistion for your mailing list
  • Share exactly the right moment in an episode via text, email, and social media
Icon of cellphone with money

Make money

  • Tip and transfer funds directly to podcastsers
  • Earn money for qualified plays in the RadioPublic apps with Paid Listens